NEW support is being provided to young people across the district who are experiencing emotional and mental health issues.

The Safety Nets initiative will highlight the links between physical activity and mental wellbeing and enable youngsters to access advice and set goals.

Spearheading the scheme is Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, with Bradford City Football Club.

It is open to young people across Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven who are accessing the trust’s Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

Research has shown that just a brisk ten-minute walk increases mental alertness and energy and positively boosts mood, whilst vigorous physical activity protects against depressive symptoms.

Safety Nets is the brainchild of Dr Ryan Dias, who says groups of young people will meet at Bradford City FC for eight weeks.

Each group will run for two hours after school during term time.

Dr Dias said: “The groups will enable young people to learn about how and why anxiety and low mood occur, as well as giving them the tools and techniques to manage their mental wellbeing.

“Over the eight weeks, young people will be able to reflect on their own emotional wellbeing, diet, relationships, sleep and relaxation techniques.”

Helen Lees, acting team manager for psychological therapists with CAMHS, welcomed the initiative.

She said: “The launch of Safety Nets is great as stigma is a common barrier for young people accessing mental health and wellbeing services. It often prevents people from getting the help they need early on.

“The football club is at the heart of the community and it’s good to have young people and CAMHS staff involved in exercise, enjoying sports and having fun side-by-side, and not in a clinic setting.

“The scheme reinforces the message around the importance of good mental health and provides young people across Bradford district and Craven with access to the support they need.”

Ian Ormondroyd, chief executive of the Bradford City FC Community Foundation, said: “We are delighted to work alongside the CAMHS team.

“Hopefully we can provide a programme that will help young people to improve their mental health through the power of exercise.”